Time waits for no man and I am, unfortunately, not exempt. I turned forty a couple of days ago and I do feel somehow that I have broken through to the other side of something and I have spent a while scratching my head wondering what it was – and it’s simple, really: I have slipped quietly – like a car parked at the side of a lake without it’s handbrake on – into middle age.
It is a cliché, but I don’t feel 40 (well, physically I do: my knees ain’t what they used to be and when I smile my face crinkles up like Yoda…). I still like to occasionally get really drunk (though hangovers get worse with age), I still get excited like a kid about holidays and I still play Xbox – though I get constantly humiliated online by habitually swearing 12 year olds. In my mind I am about 28 or so but then I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a shop window or something and I think: who the fuck is that?
So, I have been mulling it over and here is what I am most worried about:
Viewing Habits I am concerned that I will start to veer towards watching Heartbeat or Antiques Roadshow without a sense of irony and use nostalgia as a kind of middle-age comfort blanket. I bloody hate anything with a period setting, I don’t mind watching a film from the ’40’s or ’50’s – when they were shot – but the idea of watching something set in the ’40’s or the 18th century makes me want to eat a shoe.
And Antiques Roadshow is just a fly-on-the-wall pawn shop documentary, showing desperate inherit-ees hoping to liquidate Granddad’s old writing desk so they can buy a newer, flat-pack writing desk made out of particle board and formica. Anyway, if anyone catches me watching Heartbeat, Antiques Roadshow or The Midsommer Feckin’ Murders then shoot me in the face with a nail gun.
Fashion People my age are out of the marketing loop for clothes. Gap are more interested in people in their late twenties as they are probably without kids and have loads of disposable cash, so the billboards are full of smug looking blokes wrapped in scarves (yeah, try that with young kids and you’ll get bloody strangled) looking like they haven’t a care in the world. Which they haven’t. Ahh, I can picture their life: all glass coffee tables (try that now and I’d be in A&E with my kids before you can say Casualty), the weekend papers (like I have a block of time to read, what is effectively, 4 novels of reading material), watching the rugby at the weekend with a few sneaky beers (not in a month of sundays), your smug Gap scarf tossed around your neck (strangulation) as you browse bookstores (5yr old and a 3yr old in a bookstore? I might as well get a job there, the amount of books I’d be replacing on shelves) and maybe stop for a coffee (for 3.36 minutes or as long as it takes for them to suck a carton of orange juice in one go) and check your email on your iPad (Daddy? Can I play Angry Birds? Please? Pretty Please? Please, Daddy?).
American Apparrel would rather burn down their stores than let me in.
So, I suppose I am reduced to the biggest pants shop in the world: M&S. The problem is, when I wander around their stores I get depressed – it’s all greys and browns as if people of a certain age go colour blind or lose the will to live.
This is why, I think, so many people shop in Cotswold Outdoor or somewhere similar because outdoor clothing shops are ageless – in fact, they positively encourage all ages to buy bright coloured clothing (mainly so your body can be recovered when you have a heart attack climbing a mountain) and charge up a mountain.
Only Talking to people my own age When you’re young you only find people the same age as you – or slightly older – interesting to talk to. When you get older you realise that learning anything off your peer group is a deluded fallacy and you need to talk to people not only in your age group but much older people and much younger people – or you will learn nothing. So, I am worried that all I am ever going to talk about is investments, the weather, how expensive washing powder is and the MPG of my car. When what I really want to talk about is how to beat a Red Dead Redemption, hack a VPN so I can watch iPlayer (sorted, thanks SeeKew) or anything else that is not in the above catagories…
So, that’s that. I am now 40.
I had a superb birthday party, with nearly all the people that I love, by the lake perfectly organised by my wonderful and long suffering wife. I did look around and realised that the last time I saw this bunch together was on my wedding day and I wondered when I would see the same set of people in a group again. It made me a bit sad, but so happy that I really do have a really nice bunch of mates that I am sure will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Oh, and sorry my post count has taken a hit, I am just very time poor at the moment.